Scotland can be fossil fuel free by 2030 says new report

Ilario D'Amato
Reading time: 5 minutes
6 January 2015

LONDON: Scotland has the technical capacity to be fossil fuel-free by 2030, a new WWF-backed report states.

WWF report Pathways to Power: Scotland’s route to clean, renewable, secure electricity by 2030 highlights how renewables can almost completely meet Scotland’s electricity need 15 years from now. The findings are based on a more technical report by the international energy and engineering consultancy DNV GL, Analysis of implications of a decarbonised power sector in Scotland by 2030.

Such bold achievements are possible only if clear policy is implemented from local and national governments to phase out any support to fossil fuels and nuclear power, with strong targets on energy reduction, WWF states.

Scotland has already set a target to cut carbon emissions from electricity generation 80% by 2030 to reach a carbon intensity of 50 gCO2/kWh, following advice from the UK Committee on Climate Change. This is as well as the 2030 target set by the European Union of a 40% reduction in CO2 emissions.

The WWF report suggests Scotland’s current policy relies on a fast development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, which aims to sequester and safely store CO2 produced in fossil fuel-powered plants. However, the exceptional potential power that can be produced by Scotland’s wind and waves makes it a better location to harvest clean energy, rather than CCS.

In fact, the study demonstrates how a renewables-based system is perfectly feasible by 2030, and it would cost Scotland £663 million (US$1 million) a year – far cheaper than many other proposed systems, and broadly similar to the cost of generating the same amount of unabated gas-fired electricity.

“We need to see the phasing out of conventional generation in Scotland, clarity about the future market for renewables across the UK and more emphasis on demand reduction and storage in Scotland so the vision can be achieved,” Gina Hanrahan, climate and energy policy officer, WWF Scotland underlined.

The report also focuses on energy efficiency, praising for a lower electricity demand of 30.5 Terawatts in 2030 – a 17% reduction on current levels and a 1% annual reduction. The scenario drafted by WWF sees half of all new car sales powered by electric engines by 2030, reaching a total of 750,000 electric vehicles.

Hydro pumped storage should remain the dominant technology in Scotland, reaching a capacity of 2.5 gigawatt (GW). Hydroelectric production should increase from 1.5 GW to 2.5 GW, with 2.1 GW more offshore wind adding to the existing 4.5 GW. Currently, renewables projects with 6.2 GW capacity are under construction or consented.

Scotland’s renewable energy targets are amongst the most ambitious in the world and we are punching above our weight in the international effort to tackle climate change,” Scotland’s Climate Change Minister Dr Aileen McLeod said. “For example, we generated 44.4% of gross electricity consumption from renewables in 2013 and we are making excellent progress towards meeting the interim target of the equivalent of 50% of gross electricity consumption from renewables by 2015 and the equivalent of at least 100% of gross electricity consumption from renewables by 2020.”

“We will continue to press the UK Government to deliver the level of certainty required for investment in the technologies and in the associated infrastructure,” McLeod added, “as we continue to work towards meeting our ambitious targets.”

“Scotland, a global leader in renewables, is demonstrating that a renewables driven future is both viable and secure,” Libby Ferguson, The Climate Group States & Regions Director, remarked. “Through our States & Regions program, Scotland together with other leading state and regional governments around the world is demonstrating that an ambitious stance on climate change also delivers a more prosperous and sustainable economic future”.

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by Ilario D'Amato

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